Mesothelioma is rather rare form of cancer which develops from the membranes surrounding lots of organs within the body. This malignant disease most commonly affects pleura but it can also develop from peritoneum and pericardium. This disease is hard to treat but the treatment has to be conducted even in case that all hopes have been lost. The best chance have patients who are diagnosed in early stages of the disease. Still the percentage of these is disappointingly small.
There are several treatment options. Not all the patients undergo the same treatment modality. The treatment is created for each patient differently. Sometimes even a combination of treatments is applied. It all depends on the type of the tumor and its localization, its size, the degree of affected surrounding tissue, the stage of the disease, the general health and the age of the patient. The goal of the treatment is destruction of malignant cells with the preservation of normal cells. The treatment is conducted as soon as the definitive diagnosis is set.
Treatment modalities includes surgery, radiotherapy and/ or chemotherapy.
Surgical procedures are done either as a treatment modality or in purpose of palliation. If the surgery is done to treat the patient the tumor is removed together with the surrounding tissue. Sometimes in an early stage of the disease this can result in complete elimination of tumor without need for additional treatment. This happens rather rare but still occurs. Most of the cases are identified in later stages hence the surgical treatment may only reduce severe symptoms of the disease. This includes so called pleurodesis. The goal of pleurodesis is to make pleural sheets to stick together which prevents the recurrence of fluid. In this purposes different chemicals are used and injected. Thoracocentesis is also performed. This procedure includes elimination of the fluid present in pleura by thin needle. In extreme cases patients undergo pleurectomy.
Radiation therapy is another treatment modality. It is generally conducted after the surgery. High energy rays are used to kill the tumor cells. Radiotherapy may be applied in a form of external beam therapy or brachytherapy. In the first case the high energy rays come from the machine and brachytherapy includes the distribution of radiation from the tubes which are inserted into the bronchia.
Chemotherapy is also applied in patients suffering from mesothelioma. It does not cure the disease but it may prolong life span. A combination of chemotherapeutics are administered intravenously or given orally. Side effects include nausea, vomiting and hematological side effects.